Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are becoming unstoppable trends in medicine. According to research from Fortune Business Insights, the global VR healthcare market is projected to reach over $30 billion by 2026. That doesn’t even account for AR.

The possible applications for VR and AR treatments are numerous and incredibly promising. Furthermore, there are ways the technologies are being used now that you can apply to your own practice or facility to give your patients better options and outcomes.

Consider these VR and AR options you could conceivably employ:


Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco reported last year about the fly-through, which is essentially a "tour" of a patient's body. A doctor can place himself or herself virtually within a model of a patient's brain, for example, and see detail that will yield tighter diagnostic accuracy more accurate treatment data.

Sharper depth perception.

Surgeons can use augmented reality equipment to gain greater depth perception during surgery, allowing for easier and more accurate cuts, fewer mistakes, and, subsequently, easier recovery and healing for patients in the long run. This equipment can be used by multiple members of a procedure team, so care is fully coordinated. This makes it easier to communicate and consult in real time as surgery progresses.

Interactive rehab

Doctors at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston have employed an augmented reality device that patients use as part of their physical reconditioning programs. Patients move the device in the same way they would a video game. As they do, they utilize both visual and mental acuity and exercise their limbs and bodies as they "see" their real-time movements onscreen.

Implanted catheters.

Doctors can monitor patient conditions virtually as data from the catheter is transmitted back to their computers via telemedicine hookup. Patients can then get real-time guidance and advice.

Patient education.

A newly diagnosed cancer patient can be walked through the specifics of a tumor via a virtual recreation from their own diagnostic testing. This can result in a lower stress level for patients embarking on a treatment journey, and virtual reality can supply all the facts they and their doctors need quickly and accurately.

How can you determine what aspects of virtual reality medicine might be right for you? If you're an administrator, meet with your doctors to get an overview of the technology they think might be the most crucial and work on your budget to try a technology to check out some results.

If you're a physician, read up on the emerging options in your field, learn the applications that might enhance the care you can provide your patients, and start that hands-on learning. The way you give care may change forever — and that's a great thing!